January 18, 2023
Full of flowing breath and mesmerizing rhythms, the impressive Vertigo Dance Company, founded by Noa Wertheim and husband Adi Sha'al 30 years ago outside of Jerusalem, appeared at the Baryshnikov Arts Center with Pardes (orchard, garden of trees) .
Men and women outfitted in black, full length dresses that convert into sufi-style skirts cinched at the waist (by Rosie Cannan) commune with mysteries and realities.
In a repetitive ostinato, they step side to side, slapping one foot against the other ankle, over and over. Reminiscent of some classical South Asian dances, the percussive sound adds another layer to the atmospheric score by Itmar Doari.
Movement caresses the earth, ultimately inhaling motion upward and outward. A compelling company of six, each dancer spins an internal narrative, inherently connected to one another, either by gesture or look. Never exiting the stage, when a solo or duet emerges the rest sit on the benches propped around the sides of the stage against the deep red-earth walls by Zohar Shoef.
Bodies drop into one another, gather support uniting all the individuals into a communal conversation that forms one living, breathing, organism. There's a tidal wave of movement that floods the over one-hour performance, suggesting an atmospheric river event.
In a tender and provocative duet, Sian Olles and Korina Fraiman draw close, loosening their tops enough to drop to their waists revealing skin colored leotards. Magnetized, they circle each other while zooming in and out, bodies loose, eyes intent.
Choreographed by Nora Wertheim, Pardes is built on a series of pedestrian gestures. However, there's never a doubt the company is exquisitely trained and capable of expressing themselves through all dance forms.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis